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Symposium 1

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A/Prof Toh Han Chong
Senior Consultant, Division of Medical Oncology
National Cancer Centre Singapore

Dr Toh Han Chong is Senior Consultant and former Head at the Department (now Division) of Medical Oncology and now Deputy Medical Director (Strategic Partnerships), National Cancer Centre Singapore. He is a recipient of National Senior Clinician Scientist Award in 2017 and National Medical Excellence Award (NMEA) in 2018 for his pioneering work in cell and immunotherapy for cancer. Dr Toh leads the NMRC LCG VICTORY (Virus-Induced Cancers Translational Oncology and immunologY) grant. He is the first in Singapore and in the region to establish a structured cancer immunotherapy programme over 15 years ago delivering on multiple completed and ongoing clinical trials (including first-in-human trials), comprising allogeneic blood stem cell transplantation, cancer vaccines, T cell therapy and immune checkpoint inhibitor studies. He has a strong, active interest in the translational biology and drug development for gastrointestinal cancers including colon and liver cancer.


Contagion & Containment, 7 October 2022, 1000 - 1130hrs
Cancer Vaccinologists have Learnt Through Viral Pandemics

Since the 1980’s HIV/AIDS pandemic to the SARS-Cov2 pandemic of current times, the effects of viruses on human biology can lead to crippling immunity (HIV) leading to ensuing cancers to potential inflammation including cytokine release syndrome with SARS-Cov2 infection. Cancer patients are at higher risk of morbidity and mortality from SARS-Cov2 infectivity for myriad reasons. Understanding the efficacy and potential adverse effects of the various Covid-19 vaccines in cancer patients, untreated or on chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immune checkpoint inhibitors and cell therapy has been illuminating for understanding the global immunity of cancer patients under these respective situations.  

Inflammation and immune tolerance are both sides of the same coin, and the molecular and cellular mechanisms of immunopathogenesis of cancer and Covid-19 have interesting convergence.

The talk will discuss the application of immunome network analyses to study how therapeutic cancer vaccines reprogramme immunity in cancer patients which has also been applied to understanding the Covid-19 infection. There will be a focus on selected immune checkpoint and immune cells that undergo change with Covid-19 infection and inflammation and also how these same features are exploited by cancer to evade immunity particularly in its microenvironment.

Vaccine design and target discovery for both cancer and SARS-Cov2 have also learnt and benefited from each other – whether the use of mRNA, viral vector backbones to harnessing AI and machine learning for immunogenic antigen discovery.

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